Editor’s Introduction Needed: A Reformation Of True Preaching -- By: Jonathan Armstrong

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 09:1 (Winter 2000)
Article: Editor’s Introduction Needed: A Reformation Of True Preaching
Author: Jonathan Armstrong

Editor’s Introduction Needed: A Reformation Of True Preaching

John H. Armstrong

The centrality of preaching came to the forefront early in the sixteenth century as winds of reformation and revival swept through the church in Europe. This was generally true in all the lands touched by the Protestant Reformation. It was especially true in Geneva where John Calvin made preaching the Word the dominant passion of his ministry for nearly twenty-five years. His labor for reform was chiefly the labor of a faithful pastor-preacher.

When Calvin returned to Geneva in 1541, after an absence of several years, he helped to organize the churches of the city by writing the Ecclesiastical Ordinances. This work outlined the duties of pastors very specifically. It called for reform in the nature and practice of pastoral ministry as the divinely appointed means for reforming the church. The Ecclesiastical Ordinances suggested that preaching should take place twice on the Lord’s Day and daily the other six days of the week!

Believing that the principal work of pastoral ministry was preaching the Word, Calvin, Luther and lesser known Reformers universally sought to train preachers who could handle the languages of the Bible and exegete the Scriptures with care. Ministers were to be trained in sound theology so they could preach faithfully. The ultimate end of formal training, in other words, was to equip preachers!

How different this picture is from our own time. We reaped the fruit of this Reformation tradition for centuries. This fruit has now been picked and the foundations laid centuries ago are being destroyed. Our celebrated postmodern age values opinions, not doctrinal preaching. And the church is following the pattern of this age, not the pattern of sound words revealed in Holy Scripture. Believing

that ours is a word resistant culture, many have come to think of sermons as outmoded and anachronistic. Indeed, one can go from church to church, week after week, in cities and towns across America and find little preaching that sounds like a word with authority from God.

It is the conviction of the editorial staff of this publication that when preaching goes out the tides of blessing go with it. In the sixteenth century, faithful preaching marked the Reformation, as we have noted. So was the seventeenth-century Puritan movement. And great preaching and preachers such as Edwards, Whitefield and Wesley likewise marked the Great Awakening in the eighteenth century. The simple fact is this: When God moves across the church with refreshing winds of renewal he always does it by means of God-fearing, Spirit-filled preachers and prea...

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